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The Wurm turns

The Met’s controversial Ring cycle, directed by Robert Lepage (not pictured) and conducted by TBA (possibly pictured) makes its home video debut on September 11, and La Cieca is not even going to go there. For those interested in these things, the box sets on Blu-ray and DVD are now available for pre-order through Amazon.com at a 10% discount.  (Photo: Ken Howard)

37 comments

  • mrmyster says:

    I think a boycott of the le Page/Gelb Ring is the best plan. There are a dozen DVD Ring sets that are better. And, frankly, why encourage that Met outrage?
    Meanwhile, it is about midnight Tuesday and I am just back from the penultimate Maometto II at the Santa Fe Opera. Wild, screaming standing ovation at the end — and totally deserved. Four wonderful singers, Crocetto just out-doing herself tonight; she only gets better. God bless her for a long career; and, Honey, please stay on Weight Watchers -- you are doing just fine so far. Such singing is not too often heard from one so young, and in the extremely difficult role of Anna. Wow! She seems to sing twice as much as anyone else on stage. Bardon was also spectacular, Sledge was extra good tonight, better than two weeks ago and Pisaroni did is best, which is very good indeed. The title role might be just a tad better in the hands of an older lyric bass, with a little more George London in him, but then he probably could not have sung all the florid lines, which Luca did very cleanly. His voice is a bit lean, but he has fine diction and pitch and is a wonderful player on the stage. What a cast! Chaslin continues to conduct beautifully. Chaslin is now very popular here; he has fitted into the community well.
    A perfect warm night, bit of lightening in the mountains, but in all a rare treat.

    • louannd says:

      Hey Mr -- I saw it last week during the never-ending thunderstorm which outdid the opera in terms of length. What a Show though. Crocetto was magnificent and she really let it all fly in the second act, as did Sledge and Barton. Luca was very good and very consistent.

      You didn’t mention the FINE job by David Alden. I loved Maometto’s entrance and his chariot ride, almost as dignified as that thing Stephanie Blythe had during the Met’s Die Walküre. The ninja chorus was a nice touch and that witchy witch with the skull dancer was too cool, not to mention that belly dancer welcoming Anna to Maometto’s tent. This opera was the definite highlight of the season in my opinion. I am going to the final performance to see it again.

    • Nerva Nelli says:

      You can take the nasty, waspish queen out of the bar, but:

      “Four wonderful singers, Crocetto just out-doing herself tonight; she only gets better. God bless her for a long career; and, Honey, please stay on Weight Watchers – you are doing just fine so far.”

    • Indiana Loiterer III says:

      I think a boycott of the le Page/Gelb Ring is the best plan.

      Dont’t worry, mrmyster, some things just boycott themselves, to paraphrase something Virgil Thomson once told Ned Rorem.

    • la vociaccia says:

      I was hoping Crocetto would turn out to be the TBA Leonora at the Met this coming year. Although I suppose it’s better she racks up her credentials at other houses and makes her official debut in a first cast.

      • operalover9001 says:

        I hope Crocetto, and not Poplavskaya, will be Mathilde in the new Guillaume Tell that’s apparently coming to the Met.

        • MontyNostry says:

          A few years ago the Met seemed keen on another spinto-ish young American soprano of Italian stock, Julianna Di Giacomo. I see she has just sung Norma in Rome (!).

          • manou says:

            The “posatissima, elegantissima” Adalgisa is a stunner:

          • MontyNostry says:

            Good to have a soprano Adalgisa!

          • manou says:

            Come scritto.

          • peter says:

            Di Giacomo is alternating with Angela Meade as Donna Anna in the LA opera’s Don Giovanni this fall as well.

          • I always thought she was too intelligent a person to be a really good singer. I went to see her Donna Anna 6 times, night after night, and each time was bowled over by her accompagnati. I’ve heard nothing of the like in this role and there was special chemistry between her and Pappano.

          • la vociaccia says:

            I’ll never forget the review for the last Met Norma, where the author said: “Julianna Di Giacomo, as Clotilde, seemed part of a conspiracy to surround Norma with better singers than herself” (Paraphrasing, but still….)

          • (I was referring to Remigio). I have not heard Di Giacomo yet. She has sung Leonora (Trovatore) here with the IPO but I missed it. Trusted colleagues say she was very very good.

          • peter says:

            Di Giacomo was quite good in the Met broadcast of Stifelio where she replaced and ailing Radvanovsky. I don’t believe she has sung there since.

        • la vociaccia says:

          I hope so too. I know she said in Opera News that Mathilde was the only other Rossini role she really wanted to try. She would be stunning.

    • iknowthings says:

      Really? “Chaslin continues to conduct beautifully. Chaslin is now very popular here; he has fitted into the community well.”

      The conducting of Maometto II was hands-down some of the least elegant I have ever seen, with no regard to style or even the singers (He’d have to look up for that). Crocetto and Pisaroni succeeded despite him. I can’t imagine how amazing the performance would have been if it had been led by someone who had even 1/20 of the grasp of the style.

      And he’s not beloved by many at Santa Fe. We’ll see what happens. His contract expires next summer. I’m hoping for new blood.

      • CarlottaBorromeo says:

        If you thought that was inelegant did you hear his horrible Tosca..? But he has a very rich wife…

      • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        Paula would be really upset if she did not have Santa Fe.

      • Tamerlano says:

        Interesting…I heard the clip of her in the opening of her big “dal soggiorno” scena…He gave her absolutely no space, no rubato, nothing! She made it through, but the style was WAY lacking.
        That ebb and flow that makes bel canto exciting and fascinating to listen to was simply not there.

      • mrmyster says:

        I understand Crocetto is soon to sing the Verdi Desdamona.
        That should be very interesting; her piano and pp tones are
        very lovely.

        • MontyNostry says:

          … and she doesn’t just have a pretty lyric voice. I’m all in favour of a Desdemona with a bit of vocal backbone!

          • Clita del Toro says:

            I have never seen a Desdemona with “just a pretty lyric voice.”

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Milanov, Tebaldi, Tucci, Rysanek, De los Angeles--not just pretty lyric voices. :=)

  • I only saw the Rheingold and I liked it a lot. I will wait until it is shown on tv to see the rest. Judging from the Rheingold, it was no more offensive than the endless parade of Walhala as Walstreet productions that were all the rage just a couple of years ago. Was it revolutionary? Maybe not. Was it revelatory? Not likely. Was it a tad boring? By the looks of its many detractors, very likely.

    Could it be that we are having too many expectations of this Ring? After all, how many “revolutionary” or “revelatory” cycles only revealed their director and designer’s inability to come up with an original idea? I wonder how much is it that we expect every Ring to be earth shattering. I wonder how much it has changed our perception of the operas this race to out do each other that we have witnessed for the past 30 years.

    From what I saw from the Rheingold, this was a perfectly serviceable production that did seek to offend or rattle many cages but instead tried (however successfully or not) to utilize new technologies to tell the story. Did it deserve all the millions it went over budget? Definitely not. But does it deserve all the scorn it is getting all the time? I think that is a matter for individual judgment.

    • kashania says:

      Lindoro: I only saw Walküre but am most intrigued by Rheingold. It seems to be that the first opera suits Lepage’s skills best. Plot-wise, it’s the fastest-moving of the four instalments. There isn’t much by way of human drama and the piece is a great opportunity for showy theatrical effects with all the gods, giants, and nibelung. As I recall, most of the reviews and parterre comments at the time were relatively positive because of the above reasons.

      • Porgy Amor says:

        I saw all the installments in the HD broadcasts. If I were going to nominate a least unsuccessful one, I would pick the Siegfried. When I think of Rheingold, I think of the limp handling of the scene in which Freia is hidden by the treasure pile, and especially of those embarrassing body doubles sliding down the vertical planks before the real singer bounces up into view. The effect was as convincing as the dummy of Tina Turner blowing through Ed Grimley’s window in a windstorm on SNL almost 20 years ago, before the real Tina got up from behind the couch.

        On whether Lepage’s Ring gets an undeserved bad rap: Speaking for myself, I thought it could have a Ring conservative enough to replace Schenk’s and get by at the Met without being as empty-headed as it was. In other words, I’m not judging it harshly for failing to be what it isn’t; I’m judging it harshly for missing on the very terms it sets. Even if Lepage believed Wagner’s cycle was “about” nothing more than the wild and colorful mythic adventure on the surface, he could at least have directed the actors, who appear to be operating in a vacuum. If dazzling technical achievements were to be the show’s raison d’être at the expense of the people, they needed to be much more dazzling than these were. And the costumes…oh, never mind.

        It came alive when a few of the performers were on stage (notably Owens, Kaufmann, Siegel, and all too briefly Waltraud Meier), but I will not be picking up the DVD set. Life is too short, and bad Rings too long.

        • kashania says:

          Well said, Porgy. When it comes to Lepage’s direction, even if he didn’t have any profound ideas to impart, he could have at least done better crowd control. The staging of the ending of Act II Walküre was embarrassing, with Brunn/Sieglinde awkwardly walking by Wotan (I half expected Voigt to mutter “excuse me, pardon me”) as they made their escape.

  • Sheldon says:

    I have a purely technical question. Has anyone gone to the Amazon pages for these pre-orders? Amazon gives the length as 300 minutes, and only 1 disc, so what exactly are they selling?

    • Porgy Amor says:

      Amazon product info is unreliable about such things. At one time they had the Met’s RIGOLETTO (with Cotrubas, Domingo, and MacNeil) listed as running 180 minutes, which is high by 43. Levine only made Wagner that slow. Someone got them to correct that one, but they seem to have a trend with that opera. They list the RIG with Damrau, Florez, and Lucic as 90 minutes — low by 38.

  • MontyNostry says:

    This quote from ForumOpera amused me (talking about Leontyne, as it happens). A new verismo work to look forward to!

    “[Elle]offre à ces héroïnes une plénitude sonore unique et une longueur de souffle incroyable : plus de dix secondes sur le La bémol de « Io son l’umille fanciulla ». “